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Laboratories: Security

Volume 470: debated on Wednesday 23 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the outcome has been of the high-risk laboratories' review of biosecurity arrangements; and whether any changes are planned to be made to those arrangements. (177044)

We accepted all recommendations that apply to the Government contained in the Callaghan, Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Spratt reports. The regulatory outcome will be one that provides an assurance that the risk of accidental release of specified animal pathogens is as close to zero as possible.

Stringent new conditions have been applied to work undertaken on the Pirbright site, and a safety alert was issued to all similar laboratories immediately following the August 2007 outbreak. A follow-up round of inspections took place jointly with the HSE. The first phase of the safety alert inspection programme focused on containment level (CL) four facilities and was completed by mid-November 2007. These inspections, carried out by regulatory inspectors, revealed no breaches of the legislation and no formal enforcement action was taken. This process has provided both the regulatory bodies and the operators of the laboratories with the assurance that their facilities are well managed. The inspections have also provided a useful opportunity to provide advice and guidance on good practice.

A second phase involving regulatory visits to CL3 facilities, prioritised according to risk, is being developed, with visits planned for later this year.